Prayer:“God, please. Please let my marriage work. I don’t want a divorce. Just tell me what I did wrong. What do I need to do? What am I supposed to learn from this? Am I missing something? Did I make a mistake? If I did, just tell me. I can handle it.”
Tears on my pillow were the only way I could encapsulate my unspoken pain during that season of my marriage. I was at a loss. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t experiencing the Christian matrimonial dream. After all, I followed the regimen. I adhered to the plan. You know… the “1, 2, 3, voilà!” plan. When you’re a young Christian girl, you’re told to keep your legs closed, stay involved in church activities, and follow God’s direction for your life, then bam — you get a husband and 2-3 kids. It’s an absurd equation, but I believed it. I thought if I did everything by the Book, I would receive a beautiful marriage as a reward. On numerous occasions, I told people that I was only marrying one time. No exceptions and no divorce for me. Ever. And I desperately prayed for that confession to be true, but unfortunately, that prayer did not materialize.
My late former husband was not the focus of my prayer and is not the focus of this post. My anguish, despair, and confusion… that’s what was folded within the words of that prayer. My mind was in a whirlwind because I couldn’t understand what went wrong in the equation. What didn’t I do correctly? Have you ever been there?
If those questions relate to marriage in your life, let me help you with something that unfolded in the answer to that prayer up there. God doesn’t reward “good” Christian men and women with marriage and punish His other sons and daughters with singlehood, widowhood, or divorce. That’s crazy. It would insinuate that your only purpose in life is to be married and there are Biblical examples that prove otherwise. Even now as I type, I shake my head at the ludicrosity. Marriage is not a prize. It is a calling… an assignment… that you are better together and that your purposes on this Earth are perpetually intertwined. My late former husband and best friend was an exceptional man and regardless of the outcome of our marriage, our purposes were definitely designed to cross.
Right now, wherever you are, pray that real prayer. Don’t be afraid of your vulnerable humanity. I am proof that He listens and He will heal. And it’s OK to say “I don’t know where this leads… but I trust you.”
It’s been two weeks since I’ve blogged because my reservoir of words was empty. Now, I can connect again, so here goes. As always, I hope my transparency can help you as it is helping me heal and grieve.
Peace & Thanks for listening in advance.
I’ve only had two boyfriends in my life and the second gentleman became my husband. That should tell you how stringent I am when it comes to making decisions. My forever made it a point to let me know that he was intentional about me and what can I say? He passed my tests and I said yes.
So, when the best friend of my former husband called on Father’s Day and said “It’s not looking good and…,” my answer was the same. I knew I had to be there. No matter what. I immediately adjusted my route and was at the hospital in about 25 minutes. It was the least I could do. The least I could be for the man I vowed to love forever, regardless of what those papers said.
We had a beautiful beginning, a sweet middle, an amicable denouement, and a beautiful friendship all over again. It’s not what normally happens, I know, but it was us.
Was everything perfect? Of course not, but we had a love and respect for each other that wouldn’t disintegrate. And I appreciate that part of God’s plan. The fragments of questions that float around in my mind, I will never understand and I try to not to marinate on too much. It was devastating to say the least, watching him fight and knowing he was going to let go. As I walked into his hospital room, my heart began to throb in pain. I felt like someone had loosely stitched it together in light of my father’s passing less than a year ago, but the inner part of me was about to make it burst. We had gone through this before, he and I… the undulation of health. Like a Pavlovian subject, I switched into “wife mode” – talk to God, talk to him, touch him gently, kiss his face, rub his head, listen to the nurses, watch the monitors, ask questions, remember names the medical team, notate medicines given, nap during sponge bath, keep up with anything he needs to know when he wakes up… Something was different this time. Every beep echoed sadness in the hallways of my soul and the tears just wouldn’t stop stampeded down my face.
Being a Christian, of course I was hoping for a miracle of any kind, but I could feel that prayer request being removed from my fingers every time the medical team told me differently. I took a picture of me holding his hand so I could show him when he woke up. We were supposed to have lunch that week and I thought it would be a great topic of discussion. A part of me wanted to ask him over shrimp and grits to describe what he saw, felt, and heard as he lay in that bed. Did he hear us? Could he see angels? Was he talking to God Himself? Silly, I know, but I wanted to chat all about it as we laughed about another school year down in the books. Singing and praying and crying and meditating, I held his hand along with Mark and his wife. The lower the blood pressure, the less strength in those stitches that held my heart together. At the last beep, they couldn’t hold any longer and my heart bled mercilessly.
Needless to say, I’m letting myself feel everything now and staying soaked in prayer along the way. I couldn’t start grieving for my father until months after he passed away and this time, I am allowing myself to just be. If tears fall at school, so be it. Just the other night, I screamed and cried out in anguish on my way home from work. The outpour of support has been amazing, but some fail to realize my spirit has an open wound that resembles more of a widow than an ex-wife. And that’s OK. It had only been a little over a year since we divorced and we weren’t bitter. We weren’t angry. We were simply us and I now understand what he was trying to do. I hate the pain, but I get it. Before, during, and after our marriage, the most important title was Friend. Such a rarity it is to come full circle with someone. I couldn’t have asked for a greater honor in this life.
It was a pleasure to love you, Shawn, and that love extends beyond the grave. My heart cries into the heavens as you enjoy your new home, but I’m so happy for your relief. The world may have lost your beautiful mind, body, and spirit, but your legacy will live in us all. Always and forever grateful.
I share this not as a lament, but to encourage anyone who is grieving a loved one anywhere in your soul. Be present. Be human. Be tender. It doesn’t mean you’re not a “good Christian” (whatever that means anyway) and that you just need to “get over it” (insert same sentiment here). Jesus cried too and He understood what it meant to grieve the inevitable. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Yes, joy comes in the morning, but there is a new morning everyday, so it’s OK if you have to get a refill on that joy more than once. He has plenty and will never run dry. That’s what I’m leaning on right now.
I love you and I’m praying for you. Keep me in prayer too, please. In the words of my mother, God’s got a whole world out here, so let’s make the best use of our time while we’re here, OK?